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  • Lars Jameson

Falling in Love with a Ten Year Old Sony Point and Shoot

The Sony RX1 With a Custom Shutter Release Button and Grip

When I was first taking a step into the professional realm of photography and had been booking gigs, I knew I needed to invest in the proper equipment. A lot of time and research brought me to take on the Nikon D850 as my primary camera, and eventually a Fujifilm XT-2 as a backup with its own personality. But there was “the one that got away.” I just couldn’t find any way to justify the nearly $3,000 Sony RX1. At the time it just would not have been a practical decision. I was shooting a lot of events and the limitation of a fixed lens camera made it a no go at the time.

Fast forward and ten years after release and these cameras can be found at a bargain price point. We’re talking anywhere from a few hundred dollars for a rough example to about $1000 for something close to pristine. I got a bargain rated model sent over from KEH, excited to get a taste of what the RX1 could do. At 10 years old you might suspect, “not much,” however this camera was far ahead of its time and still has much to offer. It also has me considering other fixed lens cameras like the RX1RII and the Leica Q2. There is beauty to be found within limitations.

Does This Feel Limited? Not to me, not in the slightest. It has its moments.

Essex in Beautiful Sony colors

There are many, many limitations on this 10-year-old point and shoot. But it also has a few “advanced” features for a camera this old. Most importantly for me, as it has become the bare minimum I will shoot with, is that it can shoot at 5 frames per second, with full RAW output. The raw files are awesome, the dynamic range of the sensor brings life to the images, and shadows can be enhanced or restrained without loss of quality. I mean, you can really push these RAW files to the extreme and still end up with usable results. Quite frankly, the sensor in this camera is perfectly relevant in today’s world of photography.

"The Colors, Duke! The Colors!"

Inside is a full frame 24MP CMOS sensor. A full frame sensor in a body smaller than my cell phone. It’s paired with a truly exceptional 35mm f/2.0 Carl Zeiss Lens. The image quality absolutely stunned me as I tested the camera around Rockport the day that I got it, and it continues to impress me, as because of its very small size it comes everywhere with me. There is always space in the bag for this tiny little beast.

Two Full Frame Nikons on the Left, the Tiny RX1 all the Way to the Right

I have a few gripes with the camera, but that’s to be expected with equipment this old considering my other cameras are bleeding edge. First, there is no true way to back button focus. Somehow, there is a workaround that requires the camera to be in manual focus mode, and with a setting changed in camera, the camera will back button focus on the center point. I have no clue how to move the focus point or if you even can, but I have taken the route of focusing and recomposing shots as a workaround. I imagine even if there is a way to move the focus point it would not be something able to be done in a timely fashion, so either way I’d probably be going this route.

My other complaint, though not a large one, is that the camera cannot shoot in its artistic JPEG “film simulation” style effects while also shooting in RAW. You just can’t do it. It’s one or the other. I like to shoot in both RAW+JPEG so that does bother me, however with my recent experimentation with Fujifilm film simulations, I am not against shooting purely in jpeg every now and then to use those features.

I haven’t had the greatest opportunities to really put the camera through its paces, but I’ve been trying to work it into everything I do, and it always finds a place where it is perfectly productive in my workflow. I love how the lens has a toggle to make it a macro lens. I don’t typically shoot macro, but it’s led to experimentation. That’s important. The camera you use should inspire you to experiment and wander down new and interesting paths. I think this camera and my experience with it has opened up a whole new world of photography for me, one that I almost missed.

I’m so glad I got to experience this camera, even at ten years old. The limitations encourage planning and thoughtful shooting, and it slows me down just enough to appreciate the little details I may have missed with something more “advanced.” In the future, I won’t deny myself the pleasure of working with full frame fixed lens cameras. In fact, I plan to add more to my collection in time. Photography at its core should be fun to engage in, and this camera fits within that construct. A special thank you to KEH Camera for helping me to acquire the RX1, and thank you Tony and Chelsea Northrup for the discount code.

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